Homeless for about a year, Joe Parra relies on his bicycle to get around.
Today, that bicycle is trashed, and Parra lies in a hospital bed trying to recover from a recent hit-and-run accident in Wilmington.
After finishing his nightly meal at Beacon Light Mission, Parra was pedaling back to a Wilmington motel when a car slammed into him from behind and drove off - leaving him bloody and confused in the street.
Now, he and his sister are seeking the public's help in finding the person responsible for the April 26 incident. Unfortunately, Parra does not remember anything about the car that hit him at about 8:45 p.m. on G Street near Broad Avenue.
"I remember getting a glimpse of the bicycle, and the back was destroyed," Parra, 57, said this week from his hospital room at St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach. "I remember trying to get up and I had to give up. I was all in pieces. I laid back down on the ground and just passed out. "
Since he has been homeless, Parra spends his time at shelters, food kitchens and public showers. He used to live with family in Carson until they had to sell their home. He began eating dinners and taking showers at Beacon Light Mission last year, said Mark Lover, an administrator at the shelter.
"I wondered why he hadn't shown up for showers this week," Lover said, after a reporter told him Parra was hospitalized. Parra is welcome to stay at the mission for up to a week when he is released "as long as he can get in and out of the shower. "
Lover said that Parra spent a lot of time at the shelter "just to come and hang out, get off the streets." He said hit-and-run collisions are a large concern within homeless communities. "Believe it or not, it's pretty prevalent. When you're homeless, you don't have any place you can call home or stay regularly. It kinda throws you for a loop. Unless you have a place in the bushes to hide, you're always on the move. "
Parra said he does not know where he will go when he leaves the hospital. He suffered a broken collarbone, sternum and ribs, and multiple fractures. His sister, Lupe Parra-Rickabaugh, is trying to find the person who hit Parra and help him get housing.
Parra was living in a friend's tool shed until recently, when he applied for and received government-funded motel vouchers. Leaving the hospital is "really worrisome," said Parra, who can't sit or use the bathroom alone. Parra's sister said police told her they have no leads, and said she can ask local businesses if they caught the crash on surveillance video, she said. She is also applying for donations to cover his medical bills.
She doesn't have room to keep him with her, and she works too much to care for him, she said. Still, Parra visited his sister regularly to wash clothes and have a meal. He hasn't been able to find construction work lately but, because, he plays guitar, he has performed for tips near the beach.
"The doctors are already telling him he needs to find somewhere to go," Parra-Rickabaugh said. "He can't even sit down yet. "
Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call Los Angeles Police Department's Harbor Division at 310-726-7700.
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